What Am I?: A Brief Transdisciplinary Meeting about the Intimate Experience of the Numinous


We live at a time in which there is an overload of information intoxicating out brain, making it vulnerable to computer contamination. The more information we accumulate in our brains, the less space we have to fill it up with facts from real life. So much intellectual activity is unhealthy unless we can find a balance with some form of physical activity. Our thoughts have become increasingly alienated, that is if we are to consider our thoughts entirely our own. Do we think or are we thought by our own thoughts? Is our very existence Cartesian? Are we a consequence of our thinking? Are we sovereign of our very existence?

I subscribe the Chilean philosopher Dario Salas Sommer’s view in his Moral for the 21st Century1 when he says that that human beings are subject to thoughts which are outside one’s own intellectual reasoning. We are obeying the consumption of memes inoculated by others without reaching the deep processing of the messages we receive. Our present scientific establishment debates whether we are the result of our brains’ wiring. In the same way as Berger and Luckmann in their book The social construction of reality speak about a self-sustained society, I ask myself if my individual identity is a social construction and even more so, of my immediate medium (education, family, etc.), thus becoming autonomely a meer spirit in the “machine”.

The problem becomes a more complex issue when trying to elicit what is meant by terms such as “ego”, “self”, “selfness”, “ipseity”, and “I”. They are different terms and they may appear in each individual with no clear distinction. I would therefore like to focus on the neurobiological aspect of the “I/ego” and what happens to it when it melts or dissolves itself into processes such as prayer, contemplation and meditation. This is the way to attain what Rudolf Otto defines as “the numinous”, “the holy” or “that which is sacred”.

In order to expound on the transdisciplinary version of the numinous experience, I need to explain what the transdisciplinary approach means. In this manner I will be able to explain different work systems and their structures which give us the topological vision of our complex study.

My arguments are therefore, focused in two very different realms: a) the pluralist visions of the “I” given by the traditional religions; b) A comparative study of the history of neurophilosophy with the latest studies on neurotheology. There is an epistemological problem between neurosciences and first person individual experiences. Both will be considered in order to view the multidisciplinary approach and the difficulties in its study2.

Transdisciplinary activity allows for both explicit and implicit “surprises”. We propose a new concept of mystical experience which may be considered a falsationist stepping stone in the neuroscientific study of the human spiritual faculties. Thus, a mystical way will be presented that has been present in most perennial religious traditions and that has not been mentioned in quite some time.

The transdisciplinary aspect of the numinous phenomena

The multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to the numinous approaches will be viewed from the epistemological point of view of Edgar Morin’s method for the study of Complex Systems3. My intention is to work from the standpoint of a complexity philosophy which is meta-scientifical, meta-physical and meta-human. This does not undermine in any shape or manner, the required scientific or epistemic rigour. Methodology thus becomes, a “cognitive architecture”.

The human spiritual experience will be considered under 3 noological axis, according to several criteria: “anthropo-bio-physical-chemical-eco-social-cultural” inseparable and interactive.

Meta-human Axis

In the meta-human axis, research is related to several multidisciplinary approaches:

Anthropology:It is used for the study of the origins of the I. This approach is also applicable to the comparative study of rites and religions, when looking for common links as far as the departure from the “ego” and aspects such as ecstasy/rapture experiences and the so-called “entasis” (entering oneself/so to speak). The study of enteogens and its relation to several consciousness states.

Philosophy: This is the realm of anything related to the mind. It is related to interdisciplinary approaches (such as cognitive sciences). It is quite interesting to relate Dilthey’s Geisteswissenschaften with the hermeneutical work of Paul Ricoueur, the neurological studies of Jean-Pierre Changueux, the biological natural of the “self” and the sense of alterity. It is what Francisco Mora defines as neurophilosophy.

On the other hand, the Romantic Naturphilosophie confers a heuristic and a holistic approach. There is still a great deal to find out in the writings of Goethe, Hemsteruis, Baader, Novalis, Holderlin, Ritter, Tieck and Hegel, Fichte and Schelling and a transcendental Idealism that takes the “I” to the Ungrund for the noetic experience of the numinous.

Philosophical thought and literature should be considered in those cases where numinous experiences are related. This is the case with Fiedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel, Novalis and his first transdisciplinary studies in his Encyclopaedia, the phenomena of galvanism, Paracelsus’ alchemy and the first phases of Romanticism with a new transdisciplinary worldview. Another approach might be to consider the relationship between literature and psychoanalysis, in order to view the “I” experiences in its description of the categories of reason and its cognitive influence. This would also be the case in authors such as Proust, Blake, Shelley, Schiller and many others.

Cognitive psychology: This branch of psychology, evolutionary and transpersonal, is quite important for the studies on the phenomena astonishment. Astonishment psychology is one of the most important aspects for the study of the numinous phenomena. Astonishment is considered as a factor in the latter development of a greater degree of consciousness in that individual. Philosophical and psychological studies (such as those of Jung) might be required to develop a transdisciplinary hermeneutics when uniting consciousness and unconsciousness, with the present methods of neuropsychology.

Meta-physical Axis

In this axis, one encounters disciplines that go beyond the physical realm (according to René Guenón). One must also include those disciplines that go further than physics (that is to say, the ontological appreciation of the transdisciplinary study of the natural sciences) (fusij). These are to be considered in the meta-scientific axis.

    • The metaphysics of traditional spiritual experiences clearly differentiates between the exoteric aspect of all religions (rituals, dogma) and goes towards its esoteric manifestation (gnosis/sacred knowledge) that cannel those initiated into the spiritual way/experience of the numinous. The word “esoteric” is in its strict sense, the appreciation of the Greek word esoterikoj: “from the inner to the outer”. This means that it represent a corpus of teachings that is directed to the inner world of the novice that takes him to a greater knowledge of himself.


  • History, phenomenology, sociology and philosophy of religions can collaborate with neurosciences in order to investigate the integration of emotional and intellectual aspects of such spiritual experiences and the sense of conviction that a private experience has.

Meta-scientifical Axis

The Meta-scientifical Axis is extremely complex. In the scientific method, any experience must be grounded on a scientific explanation, that should describe and ground precisely anything that has happened. This poses a twofold difficulty:

    1. The intimate experience of the numinous is an individual, first person experience. It is outside the realm of a scientific explanation. Can there be science for the individual?


  1. Can the experience of the numinous be classed, according to Kantian criteria, as that of a phenomenon or a noumen?

As the noumen aspect cannot be dealt with scientifically, we have to consider it in the real of the “metaphysical” axis of traditions. From there, we would be able to establish a network that can be directed towards the meta-physical axis.

The scientific aspect of the “first person” was established by Francisco Varela. He was the first to pose a method for the study of the consciousness, in such a way that the subject could be “his/her” own collaborator and thus be able to inform adequately on his/her own experience. This new approach was designated Neurophenomenology4. It contributed to the first methods of consideration of consciousness. It is widely accepted nowadays that there is a greater acceptance of first person methodology.

When hard problem of consciousness or the neural correlates of consciousness, accompanying another paradigm drive: the self-awareness issue. Cognitive neurology studies need interdisciplinary programmes to develop quantum-physical-biochemical studies in order to explain how the brain processes data with coherence (taking into account input and output). This is not only the case for the 1014 synapses which pumping with synchronicity orchestrated lobes or in certain areas of the cortex with their “top down” to the thalamus and cortical “bottom up”.

If they are right, Penrose-Hameroff-Tuszinsky-Wolf-Nanopoulos5 and others of the guesswork who are studying the importance of microtubule activity of the neurons to gap junctions, we would be talking about 109 units per neuron tubulin (which there are 1010 neurons in an adult brain of a human being) The activity of this quantum computer is then the order of 1090 units tubulins for human brain. It is an incomprehensible number for a human mind. But the most important thing is that the effect of quantum coherence in tubulins permits with a frequency of 40 Hz all tubulins of microtubules in the cortical neurons from several areas and talámicas are pumping in unison, creating a unified orchestration of activity pulse transduction intraneuronal neurotransmitters.

My study wishes to observe the effects of quantum coherence level offered by tubulins which are the basis of several coherent multiple effects on a macroscopic level6. This is done in a hierarchical level, attaining thalamus-cortical gamma synchronicity degrees. In this state meditator experts have come to the intimate experience of numinous (in the Tibetan Buddhism’s philosophy is called “the ultimate nature of the mind”)

Impersonality of the “I” in traditional religious traditions (Meta-physical Axis)

This text begins with the question about the “I”. Is this question to be posed to myself? It is a tricky question. It is a question that may be established in several spiritual traditions in which the “I” is considered from an impersonal point of view. The question is not “who am I?” but “What am I?”.


In the earliest periods of the Hindu tradition (2,000 years before Christ), the Rig Veda says:

“What thing I am I do not know,
I wander secluded, burdened by my mind.
When the Firstborn of the Order (Truth) [rta] has come to me
I receive a share in that selfsame word”
RV I, 164, 377

The self-consciousness of ignorance is its main theme. Living out this self-consciousness is the personal enigma. The text does not ask, as Raimon Panikkar states, what we are in order to say what we don’t know8. The text states clearly what we are. We all know that we are the ones who do not know who we are. The only homeomorphic equivalents present in Christianity might be the Trinity (which includes Creation and Incarnation). It is preferable for us to view the definitions and terminology used in Hinduism for the question about the “I”.

    • Aham: The “I”, the “Absolute I”; Aham brahman: “I am Brahman”, one of the mahavakyas (one of the four senses of the Great Totality). It is the ontological principle. It must be differentiated from “ahamkara”, as a psychological principle.


    • Ahamkara: Sense of “Ego”, selfishness, the “ego” enclosed in its individuality.


    • Atman: The individual spiritual principle, the principle of life, the breath of the Self. It is the centre of the centre in human beings. It is the state of immediate union with the Brahman.


    • Brahman: The Absolute, the neuro-impersonal principle, First Cause of the Universe. It is associated to the myth of the Golden Egg, the “divine word”, prayer, and sacrifice as “sacred-hole” (that is to say, the maximum sacred effort). Ishavara would be the “relational” activity of Brama in the Illuminated One’s Atman. It also reflects God’s revelations that go beyond language.


    • Buddhi: Superior Intelligence Faculty, Archetypal Intellect, Spiritual Intuition, Meditation, Superior Thought.


    • Cit: Superior Consciousness, State of Significant Comprensión, Spirit. It is a noetic state. It is one of three characteristics of Brahma (as well as Sat –Being, Reality- and Anada –Uninterrupted Spiritual Bliss).


    • Citta: The organ of the Mind (Manas) and of Thought. The Brain.


    • Dvaita: Duality, mental dualism and philosophical System. It is different from Advaita (…). It was included in Buddhism in Nagarjuna.


    • Jiva: Individual Soul, Living Being (as an “ens Commune”), intrinsic natural soul-like reality that takes into itself the Ahamkara or Ego. It is the usual state of the Jungian soul in human beings. Jiva contains “Klesha”, that is to say miseries/trials, Egoic states, impurities of the Soul,


    • Jnana: Knowledge (gnosis), Supreme Wisdom, State of Mystical Atman-Brahman Union, in which the Buddhi is self-understood in a Citt.


    • Karuna: Compassionate state of consciousness, which is very important in Buddhism.


    • Manas: Mind, the “body-mind” state and the see of all thoughts, senses, feelings and will.


    • Moksa: Maya liberation or the Illusion of the World; Samsara or the death-birth cycles.


    • Neti Neti: Neither this nor that. The negative view of the reality of Being. Mystical Union of the Atman-Brahman. Apophantic Pure.


    • Nirguna Brahman: Brahman without attributes or qualities. Transcendence Absolute.


    • Nirvana: Literally “extinguishing of the flame”, wasting all the limitations of what is thinkable, including space, time and being. The last goal without goal, both in Jainism and Buddhism.


    • Nityanita-Vatsuviveka: Discrimination between reality timeless and temporary or changing.


    • Paramatman: Atman supreme. God. It is the term to distinguish the atman universal individually.


    • Purusha: The Human Being Archetypical, The Spirit in all its manifestations dimensional cosmic. The Spiritual Person (purusha vidha), the Person Impersonal (apurusha vidha). Top Spiritual Reality.


    • Purushottama: The best of human beings, the Supreme Person; epithet related to Vishnu and Krishna.


    • Rishi: Sage, visionary, the medium of the Vedas.


    • Samadhi: State of deep concentration or absorption. The latest statements yoguics.


  • Samsara: The phenomenal world. The cycle of temporary stocks.

In the Hindu sacred texts, we find mention of the "I", for example in the Brihadarankaya Upanishad as Purusha9:

1. In the beginning this was the Self alone, in the form of a Man [purusha]. Looking around he saw nothing whatever except himself. He said in the beginning: "I am", and thence arose the name “I”. So, even today, when a Man is addressed, he says in the beginning, "I is I," and then adds any other name he may have. Furthermore, since before the world [“purva"] came to be he had [ush] burned up all evils, he is a Man [“pur-usha"]. Indeed, he who knows this also burns up whoever wants to be before him.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1th Adhaya, 4th Brahmana

Or as "the puller":

20. “He who dwells in the mind, and within the mind, whom the mind does not know, whose body the mind is, and who pulls (rules) the mind within, he is the Self [the Atman within you], the puller (ruler) within [the Inner Controller], the immortal”.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 3th Adhaya, 7th Brahmana

In Hinduism the Atman and Brahman are joined in a unique reality of oneself as God Himself. But the Atman, can not be identified with the individual soul as understood in the Western tradition:

2. He who consist of mind, whose body is the breath of life [prana], whose form is light, whose thoughts are truth, whose Atman is space, who contains all works, all desires, all perfumes and all tastes, who encompasses this whole universe, beyond speech and beyond desires. 3. He is my Atman within the heart, smaller than a grain of rice of a grain of barley, smaller than a grain of mustard or a grain of millet. He is my Atman within the heart, greater than the heart, greater then the sky, greater than heaven itself, greater than all these worlds. [...] Is Brahman.

Chandoya Upanishad, 3th Prapathaka, 14th Khanda


The Judeo-Christian10 soul is seen as part of the human being that is made of the four elements (water, earth – to form the mud of genesis –, fire – for cooking – and air – to drying) and the fifth element, that belongs to Yahveh-Elohim: Ruah or Breath of God, the spirit. Therefore, the seat of the Spirit is the Kingdom of Heaven performed here on Earth, but does not belong to this world (John 18, 36) But we see that have an identity recognized in the UC 3.14 when he says: “He is my Atman within the heart (…) smaller than a grain of mustard (…) greater than the earth (…) greater than heaven itself, greater than all these worlds”.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches”

Mt 13, 31-32

This parable is also listed on Mk 4, 30-32, in Luke 13, 18-19 and in Thomas Gospel 20. This is the parable of the reality of the mystical body. The mustard seed is the power (dynamis) of the spiritual transformation of the human being which defines the soul converted (metanoia) in the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God.

20‚ · “But on being asked when the kingdom of God is coming, he answered them and said: The kingdom of God is not coming visibly.»‚ ·21‚ ·«Nor will one say:» Look, here! or: «There! For, look, the kingdom of God is within you!”

Q 17, 20-21

But in the Gospel according to Thomas, it says:

“Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty”

Thomas 3, Nag Hammadi II 32, 22- 33, 2

The sense of faith in God is the “tri-unity” of love and hope in the activity of the soul. Exceeds the meaning of faith, to become aware of a reality that can only see the man in connection with what they live. Have relation to the parable of the mustard seed:

“If you have faith like a mustard seed, you might say to this mulberry tree: Be uprooted and planted in the sea! And it would obey you.”

Q 17, 6

As also shown in Mt 17, 20b, in Luke 17, 6, Mk 11, 22 b-23, and Thomas Gospel 48.

This faith, otherwise known as Pistis Sofía, is the interior work (which is the mystical experience of the “metanoia”):

“When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom.”

Thomas 22, Nag Hammadi 37, 27- 33

The Christian mystical experience is founded on the experience of Christ in oneself as St. Paul said:

“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”

Gal 2, 19-20

And the words of Jesus in St. Matthew:

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who lose his life for My sake will find it.
He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent Me.”

Mt. 10, 38-40

Where were also reflected in Mt 16, 24-25; Lk 9, 23-24; Lk, 14, 27; Lk 17, 33; Mk 8, 4-37, in Jn 12, 25-26 and Jn 13, 20. These passages are taken as “apostolic speeches”, since its demand is a reward or a purpose:

“Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man [Christ] coming in His kingdom [of God]”

Mt 16, 28

Reflected in Mk 9, 1; Lk 9, 27 and Jn 8, 51-52 as those who did not lose his soul to death in the old man to be a man apostle, that is "sent" and "chosen", a new man.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (…) “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Rn 8, 14,16

This is the "new man", "ecce homo" forgetting oneself morally, psychologically and mentally, having emptied itself (kenosij), with as a child (Mt 18, 1-5; Mk 9, 37 ; Mk 10, 15, Lk 18, 17, Lk 18, 48) and having been born again (Jn. 3, 3) can enter and view the Kingdom of God.

The elevation of man to the process of deification or divinization (qeosij) has been treated with great caution and suspicion in Christianity. Or is following Christ by faith, or is Christ in oneself by Love. The gnosis and gnosticism tested the spiritual transformation or pneumátical men to be in grace by the divine wisdom lived in transformation. But has not yet understood in depth that is the proposal of the Christian gnosis if not lived anagogical experience (Origen) of the union with God. Living in the transformation of man by God's grace has been the ecumenical foundation in patristic. And, whether or not influenced in mysteries initiations, the value is the same as entering the grounds of the Carmelite mystic. The mystical union way is the love of God:

“And that exalted wisdom
Is of such a high degree,
It can be undertaken
By no art or faculty;
Who knows the way to mastery
By a knowledge that unknows
Transcending ever goes”

St John of the Cross
Nine verses made upon an ecstasy of high contemplation11


The Kabbalah, or the mystical tradition of Judaism, displays three stages of absence that occur between what Darkness Deep Genesis, and the appearance of the Light: 1) “ayin”, “nothing”, which does not exist, a vacuum beyond any concept; 2) “ein sof”, “unlimited, endless”, endless and limitless extension, and 3) “ein sof 'or”, “light without limits”, the unlimited light.

When “ein sof”, driven by the thought and the will of the deity, by the mysterious power of contraction and expansion, wanted to express a part of herself, essentially concentrated in a single point. This is “Kether” called by kabbalists, “Centre”, the first emanation of light, and from this point primary brotaron “nine splendid lights.”

In an attempt to clarify what always will remain an “impenetrable mystery”, kabbalists conceived the wonderful process of becoming One in many ways, most often as a Tree of Life consisting of ten Sefirot, ten “parties” or “ein sof” emanations, the unlimited extension, forming a universe ten times greater. “In the midst of unbearable brightness” of “ein sof 'or” unlimited light, they saw the head of “Adam Kadmon”, “Perfect Man” or the “Model of Perfect Man”, the first of four Adams revealed at the four Worlds (or Olamot system, ie multivers) of decline spiritual stature. The fourth Adam on the fourth World, our land, marks the beginning of our humanity, and then become the current mankind. In other words, in each of the four worlds, a tenfold Tree of Life is revealed along with the Model of Perfect Man, it is itself in many materials forms. The fourth world, at last, is capable of sustaining kingdoms mineral, plant and animal, and on this world, to humanity, originally from asexual existence, then as androgynous, and now as man and wife12.

As explained Rabbi Najmán De Breslov13, all multiverses that God created “are only screens that filter the powerful radiation of its Infinite Light. We call these filters in different ways – Names Divine Sefirot, Worlds, Universes, Dimensions, or as a whole, the Spiritual Dimension.”

But why do we need a system of canals, a spiritual dimension, between us and the infinite? Why can we not engage directly with God? Najmán De Breslov compares the human being with a lamp that wants to connect to an atomic reactor. At least you do not want to disintegrate need of a station reducing the electrical potential that can be used and not damaged.

This is something exposed in all traditions, even in Greek mythology with the disintegration of Sémele before the full manifestation of Zeus in his petition, and that the fruits of their sexual union-mystical-sacrify born Dionysus.

Within the Jewish mysticism, there are several points of view on human experiences related to the divine. “Devekut” means “sticking to God.” The communion with God is a principle and the overall experience, but scholars have different views on how it is possible to form the intimate communion. Gershom Scholem14 writes that even in a frame of mind the ecstatic mystical Jewish almost invariably retains a sense of the distance between the Creator and creature, so it has only in extremely rare cases, that means union real ecstasy with God. But Idel, Jacobs and Halevi among others, propose an alternative view in the descriptions of mystical union in the kabbalah, which achieves complete union with God.

According to Daniel Matt,15 states of emptiness or “ayin” can not be known by the thought, but can be experienced directly, in this experience the thought can be annihilated. Other authors as Idel, Jacobs and Winther describe the experiences of spiritual ascension and catching up or joining with God or “ayin” as a partner with the qualities of bliss, joy and light and annihilation or dissolution of thought.

The first step in the emanation of the world nothing of God (the highest of the ten sefirot, the “keter”) designates often as “ayin” or “annihilation of thought”. Dion Fortune16 reports on his ascension to the keter "... where I once played its extreme limit, appeared to me as a dazzling white light into thinking that everything was completely annihilated."

The Hasidic school of Jewish mysticism (founded around 1750) spoke of the psychological material Kabbalah. “Ayin” no longer belongs to theology but it has become a psychological reality, the only appropriate state of mind for yourself, who seeks to become a divine glass. In the annihilation of the distinctions of the intellect, all are equal. The mystical is empty and makes room for an “infusion” of divine wisdom, beyond the normal boundaries of consciousness17. Immersion in nothing induces a pale gaze, he has been described as the highest experience for the Jewish mystic, and may be associated with the extreme delight and enthusiasm: “hitlahavut”. It is said that the state of ayin begets new life through a mental pace of annihilation and thinking, a hasídico, Lev Yitzhak of Berditchev said: “When one achieves the level of ... staring at the “ayin”, one of the intellects destroy .... then, when one returns to the intellect, is filled with the emanation18”.


It is important to consider that Buddhism commenced practice as a philosophy of freedom from illusion (Maya) and ignorance of reality, became a non-theistic religion mystique of nature “dharmica" (doctrine) and activity “nastika” (unorthodox thinking emerged from Vedanta). Nutr in its principle of cosmology Brahmins, introduced concepts that came from the Upanishads.

In fact neither is non-theistic nor theistic. Their pantheon in Tibetan Buddhism is the so-called “Yidam”. But it is a hierarchical nature spiritually different from the nature of Bodhisattvas19, or one that in itself embodies the buddhic nature. The clearest example is His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Gyatso) currently Tenzin Gyatso. He is the emanation of the Buddha of Compassion (Avalokitesvara), and for it teachers' teacher in the occult Buddhism Vajrayana (Tantra) or Diamond Way. Such doctrine is intended to release the subject of the trap phenomenon of “me” until you get to experience the “ultimate nature of the mind”. This is identical to the “ultimate nature of reality”. It is inherently complete and perfect as real. Being the Being is not to Be, is Everything and Nothing. Immanent and transcendent, ineffable and oceanic (Gyatso). The Buddha's silence is the silence of God. Live through the mystical body of knowledge called in Sanskrit "boddhi" and differential of the human mind reasonable “manas”.

The "ultimate nature of the mind" is the impersonality live and directly by the individual and for the individual.

Understanding the nature alive in all its dimensions is evident that the state of consciousness awakens compassion. This is the experience of the law of interdependence around with everything. Nobody’s atom is isolated from everything and not having a vibration inherent. You could say so oxymoronical that “the stillness vibrates” living thus one of those “a-logical” or “koan” so familiar in Buddhism shan (in China) or Zen (Japan).

On the middle way (Madhyamaka), the highest exponent of education was Nagarjuna. Through its doctrine of the two truths offshoot Mahayana, Nagarjuna offers an epistemology of meditation in “sunyata” or “empty”, or rather “zero vacuum”, unlike “non-full”. The “sunyata” is the release of the contradictions in a very deep spiritual level, where the non-vacuum and vacuum forming a unique experience and ineffable. In fact already in the Pali Canon relates that the monk Ananda, the wizard of Gautama Buddha asked: “In what sense is said that the world is empty?”. Buddha replied: “What is the sense that it lacks a soul (anatman) or something that belongs to a soul. That is why it is said that the world is empty”.

That is why the experience of “sunyata” is intimately linked to the experience of interdependence. They are empty at independence. But that experience carries a more profound: “avidya” or ignorance of the true essential nature of reality. So when this “a knowledge that unknows” will join enlivened understanding of “sunyata” in his experience of the absence of “sunyata” experimentation, is in that state where you live awakening or enlightenment in Buddhism. Hence, it is the path of the middle way.

The Sūtra Heart, for example, declares that "skandhas" (or factors of existence: the sensation, perception, volition, consciousness, and form), which constitute our mental and physical existence, are empty in their nature and in essence for anyone. But it also states that this emptiness is equal to the form (which denotes fullness), in other words, an emptiness at the same time is no different type of reality that normally attach to the events. This is not a vacuum that nihilistic undermines our world, but a positive vacuum that defines it.

When Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara practised deep Perfection Knowledge (Prajñaparamita), clearly perceived that the five skandhas are all empty and overcame all suffering.
Shariputra Oh, how is no different from the vacuity (Shunyata), vacuity is no different from the way, how is the vacuity, vacuity is the way. The same (has been said with reference to) the feeling, perception, volition, consciousness.

Oh Shariputra, all Dharma is the essential characteristic the vacuity. Do not arise, not disappear, they are neither pure nor impure; neither increase nor decrease. That is why in the vacuity there is no form, or the feeling or the perception or the volition or consciousness, nor eye, or ear or nose, nor language, nor body nor mind, nor how, or sound or smell, nor taste, nor the tangible or mental conceptions; neither dhatu-eye or dhatu-consciousness of the mind, nor ignorance, or extinction of ignorance, or until old age and death, or the extinction of old age and death; nor suffering, nor its origin or its termination, or the Way; neither the knowledge nor the acquisition. As there is nothing that can be obtained, Bodhisattva, by relying on the Perfection of Knowledge (Prajñaparamita), has his mind free of barriers for lack of obstacles, do not feel fear, has overcome the mistake and the illusion: is the Parinirvana!

All Buddhas of the three times (past, present and future), by relying on the Perfection of Knowledge (Prajñaparamita), reached the Supreme Perfect Lighting.

For this reason has known this Great Mantra of the Perfection of Knowledge (Prajñaparamita), this Mantra of Great Wisdom, the Supreme Mantra, this Mantra equal to the unequalled, which can eliminate all suffering, which is the truth because they are not false For this reason has to recite the Mantra of the Perfection of Knowledge - the Mantra which reads:


The Heart Sutra (Essence) of the Perfection of Knowledge (Prajñaparamita)


The Islamic mysticism is the way esoteric (bâtin) towards union with Allah. There are esoteric brotherhoods Shiite, Sunni, but are integrated into the so-called Sufi brotherhoods or “Tasauuf” as a way unitive wherever it comes from observing the law (Sharî'ah). The Sufi brotherhoods, whether Melewi order, Naqsbandi, Sanusiyyah, Tîjâniyyah, Qâdiriyyah, Qwal, etc... Live as poor (suf, faqr, or derwish – in turkish) within the meaning of knowledge from ignorance. To next Sufism is gradually dying himself, born again and become aware of what you've always been since eternity (azal) without being aware of this, until being fulfilled the necessary transformation. It means slipping out of the mould itself, as a snake changes its skin. Such a transformation involves a profound transmutation of the same substance of the soul through a miraculous effect of the Divine Presence (hudur) to be implanted in the heart through the initiation by the spiritual master (Shaykh), and that is effective because of the grace (Barakah) flowing from the same source of revelation.

It is essential for this transformation of the soul may happen that there is a link with the traditional source of spiritual chain (silsilah), a discipline or means to exercise the soul.

A synthetic definition of Sufism is the way I heard some rather than a teacher. It alludes to Tasauuf explaining the meaning of the letters forming his name (t-s-u-f therefore do not write in Arabic vowels short). The "T" is Taubah, repentance. The applicant must begin by turning to God arrepintiéndose their faults. The "S" represents Safa 'purification; must be removed so that enturbia soul with the spiritual exercises and the remembrance of God. The "U" is uilaiah, intimacy and friendship with God, that He gives His servants sincere and purified. The "F" is fanâ’, annihilation in Beloved, there are no two, only one.

Although—as said Hossein Nasr20--this process of transforming the psyche of man appears in principle as gradual, "dhikr" or quintessence of the invocation, ends up becoming real nature of man and the reality with which he is identified. With the help of dikhr combining appropriate forms of meditation (fikr), the man gets a soul integrated, pure and whole as gold, and then the dhikr offers this soul to God as supreme sacrifice. Finally in the annihilation (fanâ ') and subsistence (baqâ') gives an account that was never separated from God, even in principle.

Such integration has been produced through dikhr is reflected even in the physical body. Thus is symbolic reflection of the inner man. It remains centred in the heart of the heart, the centre of the temple (Haykal) of the spirit. The mind, which always goes wandering a thought to another without ceasing, is stopped. Thus the mind settles into the present, here and now, at the instant that the temporary connects with the eternal. He says Nars “When Rûmi writes in his Mathnawi that the spiritual retreat (khalwah) adept must invoke until the toes begin to say “Allâh” refers precisely to this end integration that includes the body, as well as mind and soul”21.

These features are discernible by those who are able to vibrate in that tune. But even include effects on external features. Thus a person is well taken care of all diseases of the soul, not because psychoanalysis, but by doing all the impulses that emerge from instinct and are necessary condition of man towards transcendence. It has been cured of hypocrisy, egotism of having made the Islamic ideal of unification of the tracks contemplative and active. Thus is the "Theosis" there, namely the total theophany (tajallî) Names and divine qualities. It is the realization of “al-insân al-kâmil” Universal Man or perfect. Thus the Sufi lives secrecy of the secrets: “The Transcendent Unity of Being” (Wahdat al wujûd). Through the universal man, God sees himself and all the things he has to be done22.

“... He has commanded his Ipseity with Himself, for Himself and to Himself, without any intermediary or causation outside Himself. No difference in time, space or nature between Anyone who sends the message, the message and the recipient of the message”.

Ibn’Arabi, The Treaty of Unity.


In order for us to consider the epistemological parameters of the studies of the numinous in neurobiology, we must consider the philosophical aspects of the study of brain functions in the 20th century. William James in 1890 studied the “I” in his book Principles of Psychology. In it, he established that even though the “I” could be considered as a single entity, it has multiple facets/sides that go from our body consciousness and our own memories to the perception of our place in society. The way these thoughts are produced in our brain, how they are related to one another and how they are combined in the “I”.

The “I” was also considered in Freudian psychoanalysis and considered to be the see of individual activity. It was divided into 3 levels: the conscious, the unconscious and the subconscious. In 1920, Freud took

But the “I” also went through the hands of Freudian psychoanalysis, as the seat of the activity individuals, in a first decomposition of some topics: the conscious, subconscious and unconscious. In 1920 Freud led to “I” to be part of some instances psychic who, along with “Id” and “super-ego”, would form the adaptive system of the individual, called “ego”.

With Jung the "I" is the focal point of consciousness. It is the bearer of our awareness, conscious to exist, and the permanent sense of personal identity. It is the organizer of our conscious thoughts and intuitions, our feelings and sensations. It is the bearer of personality, but not the personality. The “I” emerge by “self”, and played crucial roles. Meanings receives and evaluates values, activities that promote survival and make life worth living and find meaning. Thus will reach the principle of individuation.

But with Sir John Eccles and Karl Popper is the first time that the "I" is facing the "brain" in the dual sense of grief and thoughtful in the sense of being "opposite". It is the "me" and his "headquarters" as "platonic / semi-Cartesian" references taking sense of their existence in the dualist "Popper’s worlds." Both23 adopted a stance "interaction" in which the "I" is identified with the mind, and it is situated above the material conditions, interacting with the brain. Popper says the existence of the "downward causation" (top down) defended by R. W. Sperry in 1969 and D. T. Campbell in 1974. Thus also wants to differentiate itself from the Cartesian causality, it is wrong because they are parallel, opposite the interactive vision, which is hierarchical.

Popper used in its argument his theory of three worlds: World 1 of the physical entities, the World 2 of mental phenomena, and the World 3 of the products of the human mind. Affirms the reality of the objects of the World 3, which have some independent existence (scientific theories come into this area). It also affirms the reality of the phenomena of the World 2 (states of consciousness, subjective experiences), and said that can not be reduced to physical objects of World 1. He adds that these three worlds interact with each other, which would confirm the reality of the objects of World 2 and World 3.

However, Popper determines that the main function of the mind and the World 3 (the world of popperian ideas) is to enable the implementation of the method of trial - mistake, without the violent elimination of ourselves. Thus the emergence of the mind and the World 3 (noologically interesting) natural selection surpasses herself and her violent. He thinks that the human mind, the "I" or the mind, the peculiarity of man that sets it apart from other animals, is a product of purely natural evolution that has emerged in the course of evolution, as a result of natural processes Without any cause beyond nature. The existence—as Popper—does not allow check a theory; only try, and best see their mistakes. This asymmetry logic shows that it is not possible to prove the truth of a general statement through the empirical method, while only a single case is enough to show the fallibility of that sentence. Metaphysics speaking Popper is a substantial evolutionary, where the noologic evolution of World 3 does not lead to the affirmation of the existence of a transcendent being, as it avoided by all means the question "ontic - ontological" (what is the mind? what is the "I", what is the matter?)

In addressing about the “I”, Popper said: "Although I am opposed to “essentialism”... with everything I believe in something that could be termed the nature of my quasi-essential (or quasi-substantial) ... But I think that we are psychophysical processes rather than substance" (p. 119).

John Eccles agrees with Popper's theory on the three worlds, and uses it. We also both agree on interaction issue and support him, assuming that the "I" acts on the brain, specifically on “open modules”. These are groupings of neurons located in the dominant hemisphere but related to other brain structures, each of which would operate as a unit radio transmitter and receiver: Mind collect, interpret, select and integrate the signals emitted by the brain, and turn the mind would act directly on these modules and, through them, on the other. Those modules would be the bridge to communicate in both directions, the World 1 (brain) and the World 2 (awareness).

Eccles supports the hypothesis interactionist, comparable data for scientists who brings analyzing clinical cases. He affirmed the unity of the experiences of “self conscious”, or training to integrate into a coherent image the scattered neural events. In fact not left in due course of the current arguments of the neural correlates of consciousness produced by Susan Greenfield, in which neurons distributed throughout the brain working on a synchronous and prevailing until one second stimulus that raises a second coalition. And among assemblies are combined and dissolve continuously. Only differ in which Greenfield says that awareness is generated by a quantitative increase in the activity of the brain holistic, namely, the key is in the process. Eccles was the model for his interactionist popperian strong argument in the time lag between developments nervous and conscious experience that caused its rejection of the Physicalism.

Since Wolf Singer24 demonstrate that a huge population of neurons housed in the thalamus and the cerebral cortex flashing in unison, on a transitional basis, at a frequency of 40 times per second, the business processes take conscious gift ways: the downward or “top down” and regarded by Eccles, and upward “thalamic-cortical” or “bottom up”. But these processes are achieved in trials with cuts tomographic very fabric of staying alive in the laboratory. Therefore, the process of conscience must provide an additional requirement that neither Eccles nor Singer could get their in vitro tests. And unless we can still offer some affirmation about the possibility of states of consciousness, that enables one to experience the “Qualia” of “I”.

Rodolfo Llinás25, of the Hospital of New York University, has proposed recently that the bursts coordinated and transient (studied by Singer, and now by Greenfield), two loops complementary between the thalamus and the cerebral cortex that operate together to maintain consciousness: a “specific” associated with the content of consciousness and a "nonspecific" associated with awakening and warning of consciousness. That description explains why the arrivals of strong signals an alarm clock, for example, trigger full consciousness. So what distinguishes the dreamlike consciousness in dreams where there is no sensory input to power the loop of awakening, so it works only in the loop contents.

The problem is that with Llinás failed to describe how the brain achieves accommodation of the ebb and flow of a continuously variable state of consciousness. The problem of "me", both in the lucidity of awakening as a lucid dream where one is identified consciously in their own dream, there is no reference identification. What we call "I" or self-consciousness is one of many dances neural states or functional brain says Llinás. There is only one world, unlike Popper and Eccles, and that man is not having a brain, but that is the brain itself. We are, as he says "dream machines".

Instead, the dialogue posed by Jean-Pierre Changueux and Paul Ricoeur, in “The nature and norm. What makes us think26 about the body and mind is the following question: how a man neuronal (agreeing with the idea that we are Llinás brain) can be a spiritual subject - or mystical? According to Ricoeur, the ethics of life leads us to live a full life. The values infer vital in the subject as rules of life, and therefore creates relations between the standard and nature.

I think this will generate two conditions: one, creating a moral or ethics, which I like to remember as the Novalis called: "a moral organ" (gimut) The other condition is that of a psychology of a possible evolution of man, which speak later.

Both Ricoeur and Changueux are agreed that there are two types of speeches: A speech anatomical - morphological brain, his organization microscopic, neuronal and synaptic (Ricoeur what he calls the “body – object”) And a speech behaviour, thoughts and actions on the environment (what he calls Ricoeur “body – object” or “body – itself”) These speeches coincide with what I said Llinás between the system “non-specific” the neural correlates of the experience of “here and now” and the system "specific" of the contents of consciousness.

Changueux therefore says that no neurobiologist confuses the anatomical - physiological description with the experience of the individual style “language is the frontal region back of the cerebral cortex”. Rather, it will say that “contributing” or “mobilizes” or “active”. And those inferences are involved a set of processes that do not fall under any of the speeches: They are dynamic and transient activity electrochemical circulating in the neural network and which are the “internal connection” between the anatomical - functional organization. And it is possible that the neural correlates of a need as a semantic ontology that converge in an epistemical experience describable.

In a moment of the speech, Ricoeur says in a concrete way that "does not think my brain, but while I think, something happens in my brain. So when I think of God!27

Ricoeur criticizes the approval of scientists from abuses of tolerance semantics, when talking about the brain is “busy” or “involved” in it, or who is “responsible” and appeals to a semantics criticism to avoid, that so “eliminativism” thesis as those of Patricia and Paul Churchland, even for those who profess a monist materialist ontology28.

Ricoeur also noted that an interdisciplinary relationship between science that have references different is where you can make correspondence with the neurobiological approach rather than inside one of the disciplines, and that Changueux puts into practice in their efforts to model cognitive tasks. And what is that, together with Stanislas Dehaene has been conducting around the hierarchical neural architecture and its spontaneous activity.

Ricoeur was intended to attract Changueux a transdisciplinary exchange within the meaning of the critical problem of both the complexity of modelling as a hierarchy of neurobiology. For its part Changueux defines the concept of “mental subject” as the physical state of brain neurons that mobilizes recruited among multiple parallel areas or domains, belonging to one or more levels of hierarchical organization interconnected on a reciprocal basis or as seems G. Edelman “re-entrant”29. The activity of a population or “assembly of neurons” topology is defined as “mental purpose” and it - as Changueux - holds the meaning. As Wittgenstein would say, the meaning lies in the understanding. And understand the word comes from the Latin “cum prehendere” “take”30. And that's what's going on in this hybrid concept of "mental object", a whole of constellation of brain areas are “taken” when there are understand simultaneously. And here lies both the capacity of apprehending reality lived in the first person, as in the exchange of understanding or “intercomprehension”. For Changueux is one of the fundamental operations of regulatory and ethical progress, and that Ricoeur, not only basa in a clear “mental subject” but also in a semantic development to clarify and provide a better understanding of experience, going beyond the “limits of the brain”.

It was also worth noting that both Ricoeur and Changueux agree on the nature of projective in his brain activity, as it not only thrives on the stimulation of the sensory organs, but also from internal activities.

My question is in what happens in the brain when there is suspension of the senses. Not only in cases of injury, but on experiences in isolation chambers, or in deep states of meditation, prayer, or in states of higher consciousness. What are the “mental objects” that can be registered in certain extraordinary conditions and what is obtained in brain activity in subjects such statements?

Neurobiology of spiritual experiences in humans.

On spiritual phenomenology studies, we want to get clear on what happens in the heart of the person who lives a mystical experience. And we talk about spiritual phenomenology opposed to the phenomenology of religious’ belief has been the foundation of the permanence of religion in society at any of the cultures. Let's see why.

A new study directed by Sam Harris31, of the University of California Los Angeles, detected that the areas associated with belief, scepticism, disbelief and uncertainty activate different regions of the brain that are also associated with pleasure or displeasure at the sense of taste and smell.

The 14 participants in the experiment offered a written reply on the credible (true), not credible (false) and undecidable (uncertainty) independent of the condition of its emotional content significant, are ethical questions such as mathematics, autobiographical, geographic or religious.

Harris and colleagues handled images through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they judged the written statements. The results were that the statements of belief, scepticism, and uncertainty activated different regions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) parietal differentially, as well as the basal ganglia.

The VMPFC receives reciprocal connections strengths of the limbic system, basal ganglia and cortex of the association with the parietal lobe. This region of the border lobes appears to be instrumental joining the real emotional associations with relevant knowledge modulating behavior in response to the contingencies of the prize, and in the selection of action based on the result. The VMPFC also activate reasoning tasks that incorporate a high emotional salience.

I add a personal level—and it is a guess to discuss—that there is also an activity with the nucleus accumbens, and that is related to positive emotions, reward and dependence, and that is activated in times of humour and fun (Vinod Goel and Raymond J. Dolan)32.

The interpretation of Harris on the experiment is that the belief and scepticism differ from the uncertainty in that both provide information that as a result can offer a behaviour (of stimulus and rejection) and an emotion. The mechanism behind this difference seems to engage positively to anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the caudate. Although many areas of higher cognition are probably involved assessing the value of truth for linguistic propositions, the most recent acceptance of a statement as “real” or its rejection as “false” appears to rely more on the most “primitive”, associated with the sense of taste, smell, pain, even disgust. The pleasure processing is detected in the medial prefrontal cortex and the island anterior. The truth may be beauty, beauty is truth, in more than a metaphorical sense, and false propositions can disgust literally. This would have obvious implications for the detection of deception, and to control the placebo effect during the design drugs process. But, above all, to understand that a belief is a value judgement that is no different from a trial of logical reasoning. But does not process a conversion, a change in the "I", though is useful for us to get closer on the epistemology of cognitive epistemology: a meta-epistemology, who makes cognitive method for a science trial, for example. It doesn’t offer a description of numinous experience, while experience. Although we may be useful to detect whether an “apodictical” trial. That is something we find out soon. But, above all helps us to detect intolerance behavioral level. It shows the great diversion who have suffered religions not to support an opportunity to numinous experience, while it is an experience of Faith (stricto sensum) While Harris describes in his book “The End of Faith33 that religious institutions have preferred to go further down the way from a clumping of devout and faithful believers of dogmas that experimenters of numinous spiritual experiences. The thesis is that basically does not respect the beliefs of others, what really convinces us or are not the reasons that contribute to beliefs, arguments and evidence. It is a posture of “doxa” and “episteme” that does not lead to the “fronesis”. The only thing I don’t share with Harris is the hodgepodge between “faith” and “belief” words, and that he doesn’t include a significant difference. Although if I share that one can be atheist and spiritual being noética and ethically.

The study of neurobiological spiritual processes of human beings in the late twentieth century marked a turning point in interest numinous experiences of human beings.

To do with the realization neurobiological studies of the mystical experiences we will be guided first by a classification of mystical experiences offered by Professor Robert M Gimello at the University of Harvard.

    1. The sense of Unity and consequent dissolution or loss of “ego”.


    1. The loss of a sense of time and space.


    1. The sensation of contact with the sacred or numinous, while a priori element of the entire world religious and what is the nucleus which would connect the mystical


    1. The sense of objectivity and profound reality. The mystic is not reliable psychotic who has lost contact with reality. On the contrary, has a strong sense of the ordinary that allows you to be witness to the deeper reality of reality as both more concrete and apparent. Not because the experiment Geschwind-Gastaut syndrome or "personality of the temporal lobe" is more spiritual. Being prone to hyperactivity of the feelings of religious fervour leads both a psychological bipolarity as epilepsy, and vice versa. There isn’t a breeding ground of objectivity.


    1. The noetical quality or intuition feeling about profound truths outside the discursive intellect. There is a sense of immediacy with the most radical aspects of reality using the intuitive path that wakes up with the ecstatic experience. So lived as Ignatius of Loyola, Bernard of Clairvaux, Al-Gazzali, Ovid, Rumi, Ibn Arabi, and so on.


    1. Overcoming the dualism and contradictions. It goes beyond the principle of contradiction and a third exclusively, reaching the logic transcendental Hegel, or understanding of the Third Force of Gurdjieff or “coincidentia oppositorum” of Nicholas of Cusa.


    1. The loss of a sense of chance.


    1. Ineffable.


    1. The deep sense of peace and joy. Immense happiness, harmony and internal consistency imperturbable. What accompanies a “peak experience”. But what matters above all is the durability of a state of consciousness higher than commonly experienced. And it is common to all “perennial religions”.


    1. The perception of light or fire. It is the literal experience of enlightenment. Is described by Hildergard von Bingen, Teresa de Jesus, Jacob Böhme, Jacopone da Todi, etc.


    1. Transience.


  1. Change positive behavior. It is a fundamental criterion. All large footprints lead to deep religious life subjects who are experienced an inner world more mature and better quality in the emotional world.

This classification will allow us to understand the difference between the descriptions of mysticism and belief in neurobiology from the experiences numinosa.

The “Gene of God” of Dean Hamer

Professor Dean Hamer is director of the Regulatory Unit of the genetic structure at the National Cancer Institute of Bethseda. According to Hamer34, spirituality responds to a biological mechanism, similar to the mechanism that governs the birds singing, but more complex. There is a genetic predisposition to self-trascendence, through a protein called VMAT2, which is involved in the break, through the MAO (monoamino oxidase: enzyme that breaks the monoaminas after his release synaptic) and the transport of vesicular monoaminas. These are neurotransmitters that contribute to emotional sensitivity. In this way affects the cognitive abilities with various types of consciousness that form the basis for spiritual experiences. According to Hamer, VMAT2 is related first, with oblivion of himself and therefore the importance of space-time; second, with the transpersonal identification and third with mysticism or the sense of the sacred and attracting ineffable realities.

Some theologians like John Polkinghorne, reject the thesis Hamer alluding Darwin a genetic reductionism that goes “against my personal theological convictions” according to testimony in public. Something that I think Polkinghorn falls into the trap that Harris speaks about. Since the scientific method has to be offers interpretive response to brain activity that allows the mystical experiences.

Hamer alludes to personal experience and the cultural influence for the mystical experience also. This is corroborated by a study of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research Technological Institute of Massachusetts (MIT) who have a team of researchers at the Stony Brook University in New York, MIT and the Stanford University in California35. Briefly, the level of identification with the culture that we have lived not only affects our thoughts, but also governs neural activity patterns. Experiments conducted with people from cultural fields opposite (American western versus easternmost) have determined that the social construction of reality with which we share so memetics (grafted and alienates to the intrinsic reality of ourselves) over our lives gives our brain activity. Westerners, for example we are not accustomed to such interdependent activities as eastern and eastern has not developed its ability to act independently or individually. The exploration conducted across fRMI in the subjects tested on tasks visual-spatial36 recorded activity in the frontal and parietal regions of the brain, areas directly associated with control of attention. Such activity was higher during the trials non-preferred culturally that during the issuance of preferred culturally trials. I arrive the conclusion that the more one is identified with their psychological cut of the collective unconscious the greater the difficulty of leaving the cut. It is a phenomenon that is associated with survival, as the culture of one's immediate environment that surrounds him, identifies it as one person and lets you referenced on to survive in an hostile environment.

But if as stated Francisco J. Rubia, at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, that culture is a by-product of the brain, and that we agree that the brain is done for survival, if the brain generates a “social self” to survive, then how can we survive the individual if offal such as “I”?.

Cognitive Operators by Andrew Newberg and Eugene D'Aquili37

In his book “Why God won’t go away. Brain Science and Biology of Belief38 Newberg and D'Aquili (University of Pennsylvania) identified a zone brain (posterior parietal lobe section) which named “orientation association area” (OAA), essential for direction of physical space, in consideration of angles and distances. It is very important in their development for the pilots of aircraft and airplanes.

What happens if the OAA does not receive information to work? If no information that flow through the senses, the targeted area and association is not able to find borders. So where is the physical limit of self and the outside world? There is. In this case the brain has no choice but to perceive that the self is endless and intimately linked to everything in an unquestionable way.

It is true that there may be injuries in the OAA causing experience. But what happens when a self-induced experience by oneself through a serious work of long years of meditation? Or from many hours of prayer, as they did the study Newberg and D'Aquili? These experiences are what might be called transpersonal identification, according to the scale of Hamer.

Newberg and D'Aquilia consider that there are four areas of partnership that have a special role in the profound religious experiences:

    • Visual Association Area


    • Orientation Association Area


    • Attention Association Area


  • Verbal-Conceptual Associations Area, or "TPO junction" because it is situated at the point of contact between temporal lobe, occipital and Parietal.

In fact, the temporal lobe deserves much attention in studies of mental states associated with the unique mystique and altered states of consciousness (ASC). As posed by Michael Persinger39, the amygdala and the hippocampus are associated with the meaning of “I” in conjunction with space-time and its limits depending on their memory, and its primary affections. Persinger also posits the existence in the temporal lobe unloading transient pattern of nerve cells that cause the phenomenon of “kindling” and that the instability of that excitement can cause hallucinatory experiences, as the feeling of being outside the body or sensations vestibular, or auditory (listen to God, or the assumption of evil genius of Descartes) whether the patient is believer or agnostic. Their interpretations will be shaped by the cultural context in which the individual is involved or patient.

Also Newberg and D'Aquili come to say that the mind is "mystical default" in the sense that religious experiences are obtained by combining the natural system, the limbic and analytical functions of the brain. The vegetative system combines the vegetative - sinpatical action - essentially unveils -with the parasympathetic - relaxing or quiescent. That gives states “hyperquiescent” or stillness, “hyperawake”, or large activation “hyperquiescent” with irruption of awakening, or “hyperawake” with irruption of quiescence. And all this is complemented by emotional states dependent on the limbic system (specifically the amygdala and hippocampus) closely related to memory.

They have also made reference to mental structures that exist, acting simultaneously as algorithms to order the perception of reality and which are especially active in the generation of mystical experiences. The call “cognitive operators” and are as follows:

    1. Holistic Operator: Let’s see the world as a whole. It is possible that this mental capacity born of the right hemisphere of parietal activity. An example would see the clock needles.


    1. Reductionist Operator: It responds primarily to the activity of the left hemisphere. It represents the antithesis of holistic function. Allows divide the whole into parts. It represents the analytical capacity. An example would see clockwise.


    1. Abstractor Operator: It's the mental taxonomist. Probably activated from the parietal lobe of the left hemisphere. It allows the formation of concepts from observation of the parties identified. The abstract concepts to form the basis for generating the culture of ideas.


    1. Quantitative Operator: Mind calculator. Quantifies the real world and also calculates the elements of survival (distances, number of elements, etc.).


    1. Binary Operator: This against that. Ability to organize the physical world and their relationships. Faculty of drafting opinions and similarities between pieces of reality. It includes bottom of the parietal lobe, because the injuries in that zone inhibit those functions mentioned.


    1. Existential Operator: Role of mind that offers the feeling of living, to exist or reality through the information processed by the brain. We received reports that what is real. Probably related to the limbic system, which enables us to assume emotionally reality.


  1. Emotional Value Operator: The feeling that becomes. It assigns values to each element of emotional perception and knowledge. Also this intentional operator chairs our world.

The performance of all these operators generate what they call “cognitive imperatives”. These are the meanings of the myths and metaphysics symbolically so important to all cultures. They are basic for the interpretation of reality and the problems metaphysical sense of reality that this raises. In this way minimize the anxiety generated by our existence and coexistence in an unacknowledged world.

The myths that are translated into doctrines and practices architectures mental rituals are essential, without which it is not possible to live for most humans. And this is the foundation that allows the creation of the myth or myth-culture is a product of the human mind for the purpose of the survival of the individual and collective.

The attempt between myth and the survival of “myself” is based on the structure of brain activity. They are in this case causal and binary operators those involved in the origin of the interpretation of the origins of the phenomena and responsibilities and the delimitation of the opponents, which allows us to put order into the ambiguity of many reality data. To survive the cognitive experience that has created the myth will survive transmission through cultural way or myth itself as a narrative way, representational (symbolic generator) and experiential (the rite and orders).

The frontal lobes which would then train humans to create a symbolic reality sustain the mental balance.

Newberg and D'Aquili40, discovered that when it reaches a high state of deep meditation, all regions of the brain that regulate the construction of one's own identity are disabled. In this way the practitioner of meditation loses the sense of one's own self, producing a state of “paradoxical”: There is no boundary between himself and everything else; exceeds the dualities and integrates into a single transcendent whole.

That translates into a weakness of the activity orientation area of parietal lobe (which processes all the information on space and location of the physical body in it) and an increase in activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal region so unusual. The images were obtained through emission computed tomography a single photon (SPECT)

Will be then the lobes who enable concept of “I”? Are there differences in the neurophisiological evidence in respect to the “ego”? Is it possible to register the emptiness of “I” and “ego” clearly and distinctly?

The mystics’ memories by Mario Beauregard and Vincent Paquette

The main objective of the study conducted by Mario Beauregard and Vincent Paquette of the University of Montreal is to identify the neural correlates of mystical experiences through the technique of fMRI. This study was conducted with a total of 15 nuns of between 23 and 64 years of age with an average of just over 19 years of Carmelite vocation (between 2 and 37 years)41.

The result of blood oxygen level in the person (BOLD) said this when measuring changes over a condition Mystic, a condition Control, and a basic condition. In the Mystic condition, they were asked to recall and re-live (with eyes closed) the most intense mystical experience who have lived at least once in their lives as a member of the Carmelite Order. We adopted this strategy because the nuns told us before the start of the study that “God can not be summoned at will”. In this condition, the nuns were instructed to remember and re-live (also with eyes closed) the most intense state of union with another human life that have meaning in their lives as members of the Carmelite Order.

During the experiment, were collected magnetic resonance imaging of the brain cross every three seconds, and brain full every two minutes. Once recorded brain activity, Mario Beauregard and Vincent Paquette comparing the patterns of activation in different situations (remember the social and mystical), discovering areas of the brain that are activated more strongly during the mystical experience that in other cases. .

Thus discovered that the memory of the Unio Mystica cooperating with the central orbitofrontal cortex, the right side of the temporary media cortex, the parietal lobes lower and upper right, the left prefrontal cortex middle or the left anterior cingulate cortex, among others.

It is spiritual as well as memory (which in this case is long-term memory of a “peak experience”) invigorates several brain regions in those moments, such as the caudate nucleus, which is the central region of the brain associated with learning, Memory or falling in love. Other areas are activated the island or insular cortex, associated with emotions and feelings (can connect with the unconditional love), and the right parietal lobe (related to the OAA and the sense of unlimited self, explained above with Newberg and D ' Aquilli) for the experience of the annihilation of the ego in combination lower left parietal lobe for the alteration body and the right to indistinction of “self” with the “world” (entering the “sameness” undifferentiated).

Beauregard ensures that mystical states are produced through a complex neural network distributed throughout the brain. However, both scientists have always made it clear that was not the same memories of a mystical experience that “in this place” experience. In fact, of all trials with the nuns of the Carmelite order have been collected only 15 of the 32 items or levels of mystical experiences as the valuation or classification provided by Ralph W. Hood42. This has been deliberate because the strategy of the exercise was to see the difference between obtaining a state of mystical self-induced reminded of a state. Of course some of the participants have obtained a state regained through the memories. But as saying at the start of testing: The experience of God does not happen in our control.

It was true then that the role of associative memory is linked to emotional memories. Both fear and happiness are essential factors for emotional arousal and memory factors crucial to the survival of the individual. The basolateral amygdala is the part of the brain that is believed responsible for memories of emotional excitement, as have given Mark Mayford, Leon G. Reijmers and colleagues43 at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. It is interesting to know not only the location of the neural correlates of associative memory, but also without fear that it is not possible to survive, but suffer from happiness. But it is also very interesting to realize that the recurrence of memory leads to happiness levels experienced this recreation of that happiness. And it is a volatile factor for learning the regulation of emotional memory.

Are the same neurons that are activated during learning reactivated during recollection of the report? Using fear conditioning in mice, a model of behavior of post-traumatic stress disorder, the same neurons that are activated during learning are reactivated when an fearful animal recalled the event. This approach was also used to study extinction, a process used in the treatment of phobias by which memories are weakened by repeated exposure to a stimulus relevant. We found neurons initially triggered by a stimulus fear are no longer activated after the extinction. This finding suggests that extinction training actually erases or interferes with any component of the original memory trace.

But who is the one that reminds the brain or the “I”? Is it possible that there is an “I” in the mouse to remember, associate, or forget to learn? Is the process of biological individualization of mouse a reflection of the hierarchical processes of individualization phenotypic until the processes of human “individuation”44?

To reach this numinous experience of “self”, called “oikeiosis” by stoics before doing so we face our fears.

It is important to the study by David Dunning and Emily Balcetis of Cornell University of Ithaca, N.Y. where they have given the clue that not everything that we as real is real45. Participants of an examination of self-prediction overestimated the likelihood that they would compromise the desirable behaviors (prejudices) with considerations impartial in their predictions. In general we take a self-knowledge as amended / modified by distorted self-perceptions, where the bias is still seeing reality as it is this. There is an “attention blindness” that does not allow us to have complete information on ourselves. It is a result of a biased information suppression of information that does not interest us from ourselves.

The repressed fears are factors that cannot disclose the nature of the reality of oneself. Philippe Goldin and James Gross, of Stanford University published an article in the journal Biological Psychiatry, where the strategy review cognitive (thinking about what is happening) would have an impact early in the process of generating emotional46, while the repression expressive (avoid it being noticed what we are feeling) would be a strategy of behavior whose impact is late in the process of generating emotional. The emotional repression does not lead to the understanding or the processing of emotion.

Therefore, since 1992 Richard J. Davidson has been studying the mental imagery offered by emotions. He has conducted several tests on the E. M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behaviour, located on the campus of the University of Madison, Wisconsin, on affective neuroscience and the relationship between the brain and emotions. His works have been considered of high importance in the development of images taken by RMNf positive experiences in the brain through expert meditators of the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist tradition.

Over the past four years, Richard Davidson has offered some very comprehensive studies on the influence of meditation in affective disorders and brain mapping47. In a summary, Davidson has examined hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist monks of two types: a group of monks carrying a long training in meditation (between 10,000 to 50,000 hours) between 15 and 40 years of experience and another group formed by students with few hours of meditation. The meditation has made in various stages: visualization, kyerim yidam lha yi mig pa; concentration on one point, tse chik ting nge dzin; in a state of openness, rigpai chok shag; emptiness, gang la yang jig pa med pa'i mig pa and compassion, migme nyngye.

It has studied different aspects of the ability of brain activity: For example, the immutability of facial records from "micro-emotions", common in the rest of mortals, in a state of meditation concentration on one point48. Such alterations or shocks (however fleeting and that are masked) took activity arising from the amygdala and eye and facial records, sometimes imperceptible, but registerable. In lamas very shower meditation that sounds to us all to alter, or scares, not disrupt or micro-expressions.

Another example is the ability of synchronous coherence recorded in the brains of great meditators. Such synchronicity, registered with helmets of 256 electrodes to the head of the monks, has been contrasted with that of novice in meditation. The data recorded by sensors in the network of Buddhist monks were impressive. “The breadth of gamma waves reflected in some of the monks are the highest in recorded history in a non-pathological”, between 25 and 42 Hz. Very over the novel that recorded a low synchrony with a slow oscillatory activity (between 4 and 13 Hz). This high-frequency gamma amplitude is associated with the ability to provide attention and learning. There were bilaterally on the parietotemporal and mediofrontal regions. When meditators dispersed the point of care towards their concentration without a meditation object (leading to compassion) was generated in their perceptions an experience of unconditional love not only expanded the gamma synchrony in banda as a phenomenon in neural network assemblies, but reflected an increase in the accuracy temporary thalamic-cortical and cortic-cortical interactions. The state of transition is not immediate and requires between 5 and 15 s. In this way reflected a change in quality of instant moment, a high state of consciousness.

These data suggest that mental training involves integration mechanisms temporary, and may lead to short-term and long-term neural changes49. This is what has come to observe noting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fRMI) to indicate that the cultivation of compassion and kindness is learned in the same way as you learn to play a musical instrument or mastering a sport.

We have chosen 16 Tibetan monks and lay practitioners with a curriculum of more than 10,000 hours of practice of meditation and 16 others who, without prior training, are taught the fundamentals of meditation of compassion two weeks before scanning their brains. Each of the 32 subjects was placed in the fMRI scanner at UW-Madison Waisman Center for Brain Imaging, who heads Davidson, and was asked to begin meditation of compassion or abstain from it. In each state, subjects were exposed to sounds and human vocalizations negative and positive responses designed to evoke empathy and vocalizations neutral: sounds of a bereaved woman, a baby laughing or background noise of a restaurant.

Our main hypothesis is that concern for others cultivated during this form of meditation improves emotional processing, particularly in response to the sounds of anguish, and that emotional response to sounds is modulated by the degree of meditation training. The presentation of the sounds emotional was associated with the diameter of the pupil and increased activation of the limbic region (insular and cingular cortex) during meditation. During meditation, the activation of insula was higher during the presentation of sounds positive or negative sounds neutral expert in the novice meditators. The strength of activation in the insula was also associated with a perception of the intensity of meditation for both groups. These results support the role of the limbic circuit in the emotion shared. The comparison between meditation opposite states of rest between experts and novices also showed increased activation in the amygdala, at the crossroads right temporo-parietal (TPJ), and the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), in response all the sounds, suggesting an increased detection of emotional sounds, mental and greater activity in response to vocalizations emotional for human experts as novices during meditation. Taken together, these data indicate that the mental experience of cultivating positive emotions alter the activation of neural circuit previously linked to the empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli. For what is possible, an increase in Neuroplasticity allows regeneration of neural circuit and generating new and different synaptic connections.

It is interesting to recognize that a mental ability doesn’t need to involve spiritual development. However, insurance at the time that a monk develops a sense of compassion—not with reason, but with meditation—uniting the ability meditative joins the spiritual message where the message, the messenger and recipient of the message unites as in the passage quoted above by Ibn'Arabi. There is no mental noise that distracted from the direct experience of “unio mystica”.

Conclusions: In search of “intimate”.

The immateriality of consciousness and the spirit is no longer a scandal biological or physical, on the one hand because the conscience and spirit can not be conceived regardless of physical processes and transformations, and secondly, because the organization already is immaterial herself at the same time it is linked to the physical materiality (...) We can conceive of a recursive loop-productive in that spirit, latest developments of emergency brain is continuously generated-regenerated by brain activity, it generated-regenerated by the activity of all beings, and that the spirit has its active role and key organizer for knowledge and action.

Edgar Morin. The method III. Knowledge of knowledge50.

Morin argues that there can be no direct link between the brain and neurological aspects of mental and spiritual, if not put into operation along the principle of emergence, the principle of computing, the principle of translation. I submit that it is true. That requires a state of correlation is not only the transducer waterfalls flow synaptic in a coherence state, has also been a principle of supervenience between neuronal dynamics, and activity through a spiritual principle "chiral" between the activity consistent and constructive bio-psycho-physical-chemical the human performance and its correlation with the laws of nature evolutionary astrobiology. In other words, morality is physical (within the meaning of Physis or Nature) and allows the possibility of developing the intimate level of oneself.

Trying to explain the mystical experiences will be a problem always. Because part of a fact in the first person who lives a human being. The mystic trys to be understanding as a first step, for the correct balance between the intimate life given in a state with the ineffable unitive and the ordinary life of the world who does not live in grace and warns little or nothing of this experience at first person.

Trying to understand what happens in the brain of mystical experience is going into the first person. What carries the epistemological complexity of the scientific veracity of subjective experience?

Save this pitfall is complex and requires a revision of what Francisco Varela began after the publication of his book “The embodied mind. Cognitive Science and Human Experience” which asserts that cognition is not the representation of a world pre-given by a pre-given mind, but rather putting in a world of work and a mind from a history of the variety of actions being done in the world. This is the meaning of “enaction” based on the Buddhist concept of “interdependence” while the phenomenal world does not exist independently of the subject that it perceives.

It is therefore urgent that the study of neuroscience understand the meaning “enactive” from the experience in first person, while it can provide a description of reality as it is without this having an emotional tinge to pursue a judgement (or value or reason). That is the sense that the neuroscience of mystical states can work. Not to describe if God is in the brain, precipitation in interpretations nothing profound or die without judgement. Until now, scientific understanding of the mystical experiences are not scientific (stricto sensu). This is what Anne L. C. Runehov51 emphasize in her comparative studies. She thanked the broad spectrum of neurophisiological and neuroanatomical explanations of mystical experiences. The neuroscientists describe as a mapping of neurocognitive brain activity from the experience of the ineffable. But when he tried to explain the experience in first person, have been unable to distort science for interpretation of the phenomenon. As there is an interdependence of experience with noumenon culture. It is intimately linked and that culture offers the mystical archetypes that allow attempts between the social construct of reality that resides in the brain of the subject as cut individual of collective unconscious and the noumenon nature of reality.

I would like to highlight a study Francisco Varela52 described on the deconstruction of an instant mental. Varela and his colleagues asked volunteers from the laboratory of Paris being controlled EEG that pressing a button at the precise moment to recognize an image. It was evident that the mind is put into operation during the first 180 milliseconds after the presentation of the pattern in black and white. The recognition occurs between 180 and 360 milliseconds before the presentation. The following sixth second, the brain of the subject turns to rest this act of recognition. The push button is created during the next sixth of a second. And the whole sequence ends before three-fourths of a second.

A period of strong desynchronization marks the transition between the time of perception and motor response. Varela desynchronization suggested that this reflected a process of disassociation active neuronal assemblies that is necessary for a cognitive state to another. In other words, the first visual impact, as well as sound is “non-conceptual” while from the first 180 milliseconds there is instant recognition (“Aha!”) All of this means that the brain first perceives unidentified, without interpretation. And then comes the recognition and interpretation of perceived.

For Buddhists understanding that the first time is conceptual cognition, perception without recurrence to the memory (namba) and which are beyond the conceptual stage is the gateway to the release53. Liberation of the illusion (Maya) and the inertia of mental habits. We therefore perceive the first objects in themselves as we presented in our brains, and then what we perceive through the intermediation of a mental representation. Extending this organization in memory, expectation, posture, movement and intent.

Varela was not in favour of the emotions that distort perceptions, as this would suggest the existence of an emotion that was later superimposed. Rather Varela states that there is no perception without emotional component - the interdependent “enaction”. But if there is perception without recognition, how you live the excitement in those first 180 milliseconds? It is something that Varela was unable to solve because his decease.

The experience of unidentificated perception of own action of perceived is the factor that remains to be studying in neuroscience. In fact something similar has been described by Richard J. Davidson54 to work with a special monk: Öser. Not only remained virtually imperturbable physiologically (neuronal registered) when exposed to strong sound above the threshold of human tolerance. He also declined significantly to the invalidity thoughts autonomous revolotean through the mind of any human being (memes). This is a very important aspect to differentiate cognitive first-person narratives where the threshold dispersal of attention does not allow reliable descriptions of high-quality interpretation.

However we must not forget that the noumenic experience is so important itself as the phenomenological description of the noumenon.

So we can only rely on the descriptions phenomenological first-person accounts of individuals who may experience certain conditions internal disidentification emotional, or suppression of thought insubordination, which breathes consciously, or that could double the care of itself-in observer noted. These are not ordinary states of consciousness that not only are part of a mental training, also indicated a higher ethical quality.

This is a way that has to go to the neurophenomenologic study of “the intimate”. It is the difference between a subjective perception of an average level of consciousness, where attention fluctuates in a state of “sleep-vigil”, common in all of us who live with that egotism and inertial limiter (Ahamkara), and an unusual level of Carmelite nuns, initiated in the agni yoga (or yoga of knowledge), or Zen or Tibetan Buddhist monks, who have been registered synchronous rhythms of the neurons of their brains in the history of the neurology mystical experiences. In them, the numinous experience promotes a non-inertial aspect of cognitive exercise: Increase the level of consciousness vigil until the abolition of the ego limiter. But, also overcoming the destructive emotions.

As the professor Francisco Mora says: “It is in emotional brain where all information we receive from the outside world through the senses is impregnated of emotional nuances of pleasure or pain, what really prevents us from being happy," and is that the brain designed for the struggle for survival. Perhaps that is why the ego, like brain program is designed to survive. Because if there is no ego, what am I?

Appealing to the conclusion of Professor Mora, I take leave paraphrasing a passage from the Mahabharata he used in his lecture in the cycle "No man's land" conducted by La Fundación Ciencias de la Salud.

“Who in the midst of pleasure feels no desire ... Anyone who has abandoned all momentum, fear or anger ... Anyone who hates nor saddened ... That is in full possession of happiness or wisdom”

This is the process of stoical Oikeiosis, where man becomes "Human Being" with appreciation in its perception of itself that is "Himself" which empowers its existence.
And this Oikeiosis process is accomplished by a principle of individuation sustained. Thus inside the individual-individuated reaches “the intimate” in an experience of raising their awareness (hypso-consciousness) for a process of “anagogical” experience which raise their perception towards the most intimate Himself.

But that's another story...



1 Salas, Dario. Moral para el Siglo XXI. Ed. Xistral. Madrid, 1998.

2 Andresen, Jensine & Forman, Robert K.C., “Methodological Pluralism in the Study of Religion: How the Study of Consciousness and Mapping Spiritual Experiences can Reshape Religious Methodology” in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 7, No. 11-12, November-December 2000, pag. 7 – 17. Imprint Academic.

3 Morin, E., Introducción al pensamiento complejo. Editorial Gedisa. México 2004. Original: Introduction à la pensée complexe. ESPF Éditeur. Paris 1990.
Morin, E., El Método III. El conocimiento del conocimiento. Ediciones Cátedra. Madrid 1999. Original: La Méthode III. La conaissance de la connaissance. Éditions du Seuil. Paris 1986.

4 Varela, F.J., Neurophenomenology : A Methodological Remedy for the Hard Problem. Journal of Consciousness Studies, "Special Issues on the Hard Problems", J.Shear (Ed.) June 1996.

5 Hameroff, S., Penrose, R., Orchestrated Reduction Of Quantum Coherence In Brain Microtubules: A Model For Consciousness? In: Toward a Science of Consciousness - The First Tucson Discussions and Debates, eds. Hameroff, S.R., Kaszniak, A.W. and Scott, A.C., Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 507-540 (1996)
Hagan, S., Hameroff, S., Tuszynski, J., Quantum Computation in Brain Microtubules? Decoherence and Biological Feasibility, Physical reviews E, 2002. 65:061901
Wolf, N. J., Hameroff, S., A Quantum Approach To Visual Consciousnes, Trends in Cognitive Science, vol. 5. No. 11. November 2001.

6 Castro, Oscar. Aspectos biosemióticos de la conciencia: en búsqueda de los signos de la vida y su referencia a la conciencia como principio teleonómico. Revista Pensamiento. Vol. 62. No. 234. 2006. pp. 471-504.

7 Pannikkar, Raimon, “The Vedic Experience”. All India Books, Pondicherry (India), 1977.

8 Pannikar, Raimon, L’Hinduisme, in: Les intuïcions fonamentals de les grans religions V.V.A.A. Ed. Cruilla, Col. Cristianisme i Cultura. Barcelona, 1991.

9 Pannikkar, Raimon, “El Cristo desconocido del Hinduismo, para una Cristofanía Ecuménica. Un encuentro entre Oriente y Occidente”. Grupo Libro. Colección Paraísos Perdidos. Madrid (Spain), 1994.

10 The Holy Scriptures:

  • Bible. Hebrew and English. The Bible Society in Israel. Jerusalem 1997.
  • The Greek New Testament. Bible Society United. 1975.
  • Robinson, J. M., Hoffmann, P., Kloppenborg, J. S., El Documento Q. Edition in greek and spanish with parallels from the Gospels of Mark and Thomas. Ediciones Sigueme. Salamanca 2002.
  • Piñero, A. Montserrat Torrents, J., Garcia Bazán, F., Textos Gnósticos. Biblioteca de Nag Hammadi II. Evangelios, hechos, cartas. Editorial Trotta. Madrid 1999.

11 Translator by Gerald Brenan.
As original text:

“...Y es de tan alta excelencia
aqueste sumo saber,
que no hay facultad ni sciencia
que le puedan emprender;
quien se supiere vencer
con un no saber sabiendo,
irá siempre trascendiendo..”

San Juan de la Cruz.
Coplas del mismo hechas sobre un éxtasis de alta contemplación

12 Scholem, Gershom Gerhard, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Schoken Books, New York 1995 p. 202

13 Najmán De Breslov, Anatomy of Soul, p. 17, Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem

14 Scholem, G. (1955). Jewish mysticism.London: Thames and Hudson. pp. 122-123.

15 Matt, D. (1990). Ayin: The concept of nothingness in Jewish mysticism. In Robert Forman (Ed.), The problem of pure consciousnes (pp. 121-159).New York: Oxford University Press.

16 Fortune, D. (1995). Kabbalaen (in Danish).Copenhagen: Sankt Ansgars Forlag.

17 Matt, D. Op.Cit. pp. 139-140

18 Matt, D. Op.Cit. pp. 139-140

19 Yidam is a word that has no translation in West, but is often translated as meditation deity, but more is needed to translate it as “buddhic aspect”. The Yidam is used as a method of transformation towards complete enlightenment. The Yidams are both a specific form of a Buddha, as well as the basic nature or the student's potential to become a Buddha. The student meditates on the outstanding characteristics of Yidam until it conducts a full union with him. The Yidam, which can be both male and female, can match the appearance buddhic staff, what this means is that the nature of Yidam corresponds to temperamental and psychological qualities of each adept. Wikipedia.

20 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Sufismo vivo, Editorial Herder, Barcelona, 1984. p. 59

21 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Op.Cit. p. 60

22 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Op.Cit. p. 41

23 Popper, K., Eccles, J., The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1977.

24 Singer, W. Synchronization of cortical activity and its putative role in information processing and learning. Annual Review of Psychology 55, 1993, pp. 349-375.

25 Llinás, R. El cerebro y el mito del yo. Belacqua de Ediciones, Barcelona 2003.

26 Changeux, J. P., Ricoeur, P., La naturaleza y la norma. Lo que nos hace pensar. Fondo de Cultura Económica, México 2001. Original: La nature et l règle. Ce qui nous fait penser. Editions Odile Jacob. Paris 1998.

27 Changeux, J. P., Ricoeur, P. Op. Cit. p. 46.

28 Changeux, J. P., Ricoeur, P. Op. Cit. p. 52.

29 Edelman, G., Biologie de la conscience. Editions Odile Jacob, Paris 1992.

30 Changeux, J. P., Ricoeur, P. Op. Cit. p. 112.

31 Harris, Sam., Sheth, Sameer A., and Cohen, Mark S., Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief, and Uncertainty. American Neurological Association, 2007 Dec; pp. 141-147.

32 Goel, Vinod., Dolan, Raymond J. Social regulation of affective experience of humor. J Cogn Neurosci. 2007 Sep ;19 (9):1574-80.
To review other papers associated with beliefs, see the same authors:
Goel, Vinod., Dolan, Raymond J. Explaining modulation of reasoning by belief. Cognition. 2003 Feb ;87
Goel, Vinod., Dolan, Raymond J. Reciprocal neural response within lateral and ventral medial prefrontal cortex during hot and cold reasoning. Neuroimage. 2003 Dec ;20 (4)

33 Harris, S., The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. W.W. Norton. New York 2004

34 Hamer, D. The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes. Doubleday. New York 2004.

35 Hedden, Trey., Ketay, Sarah., Aron, Arthur., Markus, Hazel Rose., Gabrieli, John D.E., Cultural Influences on Neural Substrates of Attentional Control. Psychological Science 19 (1) , 2008 Jan; pp. 12–17

36 The images were presented diagrams in a row that had a vertical line within a box. The participants were shown a series of drawings for those who cast his view of perception according to two rules: one requiring them to ignore the context and define the length of the line without taking into account the size of the squares (trial Absolute). The other rule was to take into account the context, and compare the proportions of the lines with the squares in which they were (on trial) (See: www.tendencias21.net/La-cultura-rige-tambien-la-actividad-del-cerebro_a2035.html )

37 I must thank the book Ramón Maria Nogués, Deus creences i neurones. Un acostament científic a la religió. Fragmenta Editorial, Barcelona 2007; for clarifying what their notes on both authors cited.

38 Newberg, Andrew M., D’Aquilli Eugene G., Why God won’t go away. Brain Sciene and Biology of Belief. Ballantine books, Nova York 2001.

39 Persinger, M .A., Religious and mystical experiences as artifacts of temporal lobe function: A general hypothesis. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 57, pp 1.255-1.262, 1983.

40 Newberg, Andrew M., D’Aquilli Eugene G., The Mystical Mind, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1999.

41 Beauregard, Mario & Paquette, Vicent. Neural Correlates of a Mystical Experience in Carmelite Nuns. Neuroscience Letters 405: 186–190, 2006.

42 Hood, Ralph W., Jr., The Construction and Preliminary Validation of a Measure of Reported Mystical Experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 14: 29-41, 1975.

43 Reijmers, L.G., Perkins, B.L., Matsuo, N., Mayford, M. Localization of a stable neural correlate of associative memory. Science 317:1230, 2007.

44 The process of individuation is defined from Jungian psychology as a process of transformation of the ego in the “Self”, the intimate nature of the individual. It is the “oikeiosis”. This makes the living being is experienced or are perceived as belonging to himself and he tend to the development of its peculiar nature.

45 Epley, N., & Dunning, D. The mixed blessings of self-knowledge in behavioral prediction: Enhanced discrimination but exacerbated bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, pp.641-655. 2006.

46 Goldin, Philippe R., McRaea, K., Ramela, W.,Gross, James J., The Neural Bases of Emotion Regulation: Reappraisal and Suppression of Negative Emotion. Biological Psychiatry. Volume 63, Issue 6, 15 March 2008, pp. 577-586.

47 Lutz A, Greischar LL, Rawlings NB, Ricard M, Davidson RJ. Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101:16369-73. 2004.

48 For know more in depth view to neurologist Paul Whalen:
Whalen PJ, Shin LM, McInerney SC, Fischer H, Wright CI, Rauch SL. A functional MRI study of human amygdala responses to facial expressions of fear vs. anger. Emotion, 2001; 1:70-83.
Somerville LH, Kim H, Johnstone T, Alexander A, Whalen PJ. Human amygdala response during presentation of happy and neutral faces: Correlations with state anxiety. Biological Psychiatry, 2004; 55:897-903.
Whalen PJ, Kagan J, Cook RG, Davis FC, Kim H, Polis S, McLaren DG, Somerville LH, McLean AA, Maxwell JS, Johnstone T. Human amygdala responsivity to masked fearful eye whites. Science, 2004; 306:2061.
And Paul Eckman:
Bartlett, M.S., Hager, J.C., Ekman, P., and Sejnowski, T.J. Measuring facial expressions by computer image analysis. Psychophysiology, 36, 253-263. 1999.
Ruch. W. & Ekman, P. The expressive pattern of laughter. In A.W. Kaszniak (Ed.) Emotion qualia, and consciousness. Word Scientific Publisher. Tokyo. 426-443. 2001.
Levenson, R.W., & Ekman, P. Difficulty does not account for emotion-specific heart rate changes in the directed facial action task. Psychophysiology, 39 397-405. 2002.
Tsiamyrtzis, P., Dowdall, J., Shastri, D., Pavlidis, I.T., Frank, M.G., Ekman, P. Imaging Facial Physiology for the Detection of Deceit. International Journal of Computer Vision, 71 (2), 197-214. 2005.

49 Lutz, A., Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., Davidson, R. J. Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PLoS ONE. 2008 Mar 26;3(3):e1897.

50 Morin, Edgar. El método III. El conocimiento del conocimiento. Ediciones Cátedra, Madrid 1999. Pag. 89-90.

51 Runehov, A.L.C. Neuroscientific Explanations of Religious Experience are Not free from Cultural Aspects. Journal for Interdisciplinary Research on Religion and Science, No. 2, January 2008. pp 141-156
Runehov, A.L.C., Sacred or Neural?The Potential of Neuroscience to Explain Religious Experience. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht: Göttingen, Germany. 2007.
Runehov, A.L.C., A Neuro-psychological Explanation of Religious Experience?, Studies in Science and Theology, Görman, U./Drees, W.B./Meisinger, H. (ed.), vol. 9, 59—68. 2004.
Runehov, A.L.C. A Being or To Be? Philosophical Thoughts about Future Research on Neuroscience and Religions and the Need for Interdisciplinarity, European Journal of Science and Theology, vol. 2, No. 1 (March), 55-66. 2006.

52 Rodriguez, E., George, N., Lachaux, J. P.,Martinerie, J., Renault, B.,Varela, F. J., Perception's shadow: long-distance synchronization of human brain activity. Nature 397, 430-433 (4 February 1999).

53 This topic has been cause for more than a thousand years of debate among Buddhist schools (Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, and Yogashara Madhyamaka) Vaibhashika is the only one that admits the perception is a case of representation reflects. The other schools have the idea that this is a more active process in which the Namba (“appearance”) plays an organizer subjective role.

54 Goleman, D. Emociones Destructivas. Como entenderlas y superarlas. Ed. Kairós. Barcelona, 2003. Original: Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama – Bantam Dell Publishing Group, New York 2003.

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